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World Brexit: London agrees to resume negotiations to escape the "no deal"

22:30  21 october  2020
22:30  21 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

Post-Brexit trade talks on brink as time runs out

  Post-Brexit trade talks on brink as time runs out British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen hold crunch talks on Wednesday with time running short for the two leaders to decide on whether it is worth pursuing post-Brexit trade negotiations. The call between the two comes on the eve of an EU summit that Johnson had declared to be the deadline for a breakthrough, but a source close to the talks said he would only decide after the meeting. The European Union had neverThe call between the two comes on the eve of an EU summit that Johnson had declared to be the deadline for a breakthrough, but a source close to the talks said he would only decide after the meeting.

Le Premier ministre britannique Boris Johnson à la Chambre des Communes à Londres le 21 octobre 2020 © JESSICA TAYLOR British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the House of Commons in London on October 21, 2020

The United Kingdom agreed to resume on Wednesday Thursday intensive post-Brexit trade negotiations with the European Union, believing that it had received sufficient assurances from Brussels to give a new chance to discussions with a view to escaping a potentially devastating "no deal".

After nearly a week spent passing the buck, London and Brussels have registered the resumption of dialogue during a call between their negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, the third this week.

A sprint is now opening to bridge the gap that separates them on essential issues such as fishing or the alignment of standards. Europeans believe that an agreement must be concluded before the end of October to apply on January 1, at the end of the transition period following their historic divorce on January 31.

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Michel Barnier, négociateur européen sur le Brexit, au Parlement européen à Bruxelles le 21 octobre 2020 © Olivier HOSLET Michel Barnier, European negotiator on Brexit, at the European Parliament in Brussels on October 21, 2020

"Clearly, significant differences remain between our positions on the most difficult subjects but we are ready with the EU, to see if it is possible to bring them together during intensive discussions, "a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. "It is quite possible that the negotiations will fail," he warned.

Le Premier ministre britannique à la Chambre des Communes à Londres le 21 octobre 2020 © Handout The British Prime Minister in the House of Commons in London on October 21, 2020

The Commission immediately announced that a team of negotiators would leave for London on Thursday. Discussions are to be held there until Sunday. Then they will take place in person or by video conference, depending on what is decided.

We won’t get a Brexit deal in Brussels today - so what happens next?

  We won’t get a Brexit deal in Brussels today - so what happens next? Europe's political leaders will arrive in Brussels later for one of their regular meetings. © Other Boris Johnson's 15 October deadline will pass without a Brexit deal being signed They'll be talking about the obvious things - the EU budget, foreign affairs, coronavirus - but a chunk of time will go on something they haven't discussed for a while... Brexit.Talks over a Brexit trade deal may have been going on in the background, but it has been many months since this group of leaders, known as the European Council, had a formal discussion about what a Brexit deal might look like.

They are planned daily, weekends included and on the basis of legal texts, as London wanted without waiting for a compromise in principle.

Michel Barnier, négociateur européen sur le Brexit, au parlement européen le 21 octobre 2020 © Olivier HOSLET Michel Barnier, European Brexit negotiator, in the European Parliament on October 21, 2020

Already difficult, the post-Brexit discussions got worse last Thursday. At the top, the 27 demanded concessions from London to reach an agreement applicable next year, when their rules cease to apply on British territory.


Video: Brexit: the EU calls on London to give up all "negotiation tactics" (Le Figaro)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson then declared the talks "over" and asked his countries to prepare for a "no deal", a potentially devastating prospect for economies already shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic.

London had however left the door "ajar", saying it was waiting for a "fundamental change of approach" from the Europeans to resume dialogue.

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The reconciliation took place in several stages. On Monday, Michel Barnier said the EU remained "available to intensify" discussions, for the first time "on the basis of legal texts" without waiting for the conclusion of the discussions, a major demand from London.

- "Butter and money from butter" -

Before MEPs on Wednesday morning, he said he was ready to seek "the necessary compromises, on each side", a gesture immediately noted "with interest" by Downing Street.

"Any future agreement will be made with respect for the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and with respect for British sovereignty", he also promised, speaking to MEPs.

He judged, "despite the difficulties", an agreement still "within reach".

Discussions are still stumbling on three subjects: Europeans' access to fish-rich British waters, the guarantees demanded in London in terms of competition, and the way of settling disputes in the future agreement.

Also before MEPs on Wednesday, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, criticized London for wanting to access the single European market "while being able to deviate from our standards and regulations, when it suits it".

"You can't have the butter, the money the butter, and the smile of the dairy woman," he said.

Without an agreement, trade between the two parties will be governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from 1 January, synonymous with high customs duties. Even in the event of a compromise avoiding this sudden rupture, companies must prepare for time-consuming steps to export and comply with the respective standards.

The companies were not really reassured by a telephone exchange Tuesday with the government, a discussion between 250 leaders and the Prime Minister which revealed strong tensions, according to the British press.

Several participants denounced a "terrible call" and "incredibly disrespectful of their concerns", in which Boris Johnson allegedly claimed that the novel coronavirus pandemic had created "too much apathy" for companies to be ready, according to the BBC .

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Brexit: London agrees to resume negotiations to escape the "no deal" .
© Supplied by Le Point The United Kingdom agreed on Wednesday to resume intensive post-Brexit trade negotiations with the European Union on Thursday, estimating have received sufficient assurances from Brussels to give a new chance to discussions with a view to escaping a potentially devastating "no deal".

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